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Hypothermia victim ‘worried about gas price’

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: January 17, 2013

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A HYPOTHERMIA victim found dead in a bath was worried about the cost of her heating bills, an inquest has heard.

Christine Buckler’s concerns were revealed by her nephew, Paul Askew, during a hearing about his 79-year-old aunt’s death at Burton Town Hall.

“She was a little bit worried about the cost of gas,” he told South Staffordshire Coroner Andrew Haigh.

“The house was heated by small radiators.”

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He spoke after the inquest heard neighbour Joan Cable discovered Miss Buckler’s body on September 20 last year after letting herself into the pensioner’s Aspen Road home, in Barton-under-Needwood.

The pensioner had felt ill and lost weight, while neighbours had grown increasingly concerned about her welfare after failing to see her for several days.

PC Samantha Humphreys, who attended the scene with a sergeant and scenes of crime officer, said police found bruises on Miss Buckler’s body but no evidence of foul play.

Clean and dirty clothes were discovered by the bath and fresh clothing found in an adjacent bedroom. The immersion heater was on but the central heating was off.

Independent consultant pathologist Dr Peter Acland, who conducted a post-mortem examination on Miss Buckler’s body, said she died of hypothermia.

He suggested that as the victim got into the bath, she had fallen forward and hit her head on the wall, leaving her stunned.

Miss Buckler’s arthritis of the knees would have hampered her movement, Dr Acland said.

He confirmed there was no evidence she had been assaulted, adding that there were also no signs of a stroke or heart attack.

Mr Haigh described Miss Buckler’s death as ‘sad’ and ‘most unfortunate’ and said it could not be described as natural.

He recorded a verdict of accidental death and extended his condolences to Mr Askew and his family.

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